Easy Cream Sauce

This easy cream sauce recipe is full of garlic and Parmesan flavor! It takes just 10 minutes to make and tastes incredible on pasta.

Easy cream sauce

Here’s a delicious sauce everyone should know how to make: cream sauce! This luscious sauce is perfect for pasta and is ready in 10 minutes. It’s so simple to whip up by making a roux, a skill all cooks should have in their back pocket. Even better: you don’t have to use cream! Milk is all you need for this garlic cream sauce, then add just a small sprinkle of Parmesan cheese at the end. You won’t believe the rich flavor in this almost (dare we say) healthy pasta sauce.

Ingredients for garlic cream sauce

The great part about this cream sauce? It doesn’t use heavy cream! We’re not sure about you, but we don’t often stock heavy cream in our refrigerator. It’s a specialty ingredient and it’s pretty high in calories. This garlic cream sauce uses 2% milk and makes the most luscious white sauce you’ll have. Here’s what you need:

  • Salted butter
  • Garlic
  • Flour
  • Milk
  • Salt
  • Parmesan cheese
Cream Sauce

How to make a cream sauce: it’s all about the roux!

 A “roux” is flour and butter cooked together and used to thicken sauces. It’s usually made from equal parts of flour and butter. You’ll cook the butter and flour together until they start to turn light brown, then add milk to the pasta sauce. Here are a few tips on how to make a roux for this cream sauce:

  • Measure out all the ingredients first. The cooking process goes quickly, so you don’t want to have to stop to measure an ingredient.
  • Don’t leave the stove. You’ll have to babysit the pan for this sauce, especially the initial few minutes. Don’t get distracted!
  • Saute the garlic only 30 seconds. Be careful not to overcook: you don’t want it to brown!
  • Add flour and whisk constantly. This part is the most important. The flour can overcook in an instant, turning a brown color. Only cook it until it’s golden.
  • Whisk in the milk gradually. Add just a little milk, then whisk it in. Continue adding little bits until the sauce is smooth. Then cook about 5 minutes until thickened, and add the Parmesan and salt. Voila!
White sauce pasta

Serving this cream sauce with pasta

This garlic cream sauce is perfect for serving with pasta! Long noodles, short noodles, spaghetti, penne or rigatoni, any pasta shape works with this sauce. Here are a few things to know about serving with pasta:

  • It makes enough for 8 ounces pasta. If you’re making 1 pound of pasta, make sure to double the recipe quantities.
  • Add it to the pasta, then add a few splashes of milk. To get it perfectly creamy, add a few splashes of milk to the pasta to loosen the sauce and help it come to the right consistency.
  • Make it a meal with a protein & a salad. Add shrimp or these 5-minute Easy Cannellini Beans and a green salad.

Can you make cream sauce ahead? How to store it?

This garlic cream sauce is best freshly made! Since it only takes 10 minutes to make, it’s not hard to fit into your meal prep.

If you do happen to have leftover sauce, you can store it, but it gets very thick and gummy. Store it refrigerated, then re-heat on low head and add milk until the sauce becomes creamy again. This is not ideal, which is why we suggest making it fresh!

Garlic cream sauce

Other ways to serve cream sauce

Other than a white pasta sauce, there are lots of other ways to serve this garlic cream sauce! Here are some ideas:

This recipe is…

Vegetarian. For gluten-free, use gluten-free flour.

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Parmesan cream sauce

Easy Cream Sauce


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  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 0 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 3/4 cup or enough for 8 ounces pasta 1x
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

This easy cream sauce recipe is full of garlic and Parmesan flavor! It takes just 10 minutes to make and tastes incredible on pasta. 


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon salted butter* (double all ingredients to serve with 1 pound pasta)
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
  • 1 cup 2% milk 
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Measure out all ingredients in advance; the cooking process happens fast! If serving with pasta, cook 8 ounces pasta while you make the sauce. 
  2. In a small or medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the grated garlic and cook 30 seconds until fragrant but not browned.
  3. Add the flour and whisk constantly for 1 minute to 90 seconds, until bubbly and golden. Do not overcook it: the flour can turn brown within a few seconds. Keep an eye on it!
  4. Add a splash of milk and whisk it in: the sauce will instantly turn chunky. Constantly whisking, continue to add splashes of milk and whisk them in until the entire quantity is incorporated and the sauce is smooth.
  5. Reduce the heat and whisk until the sauce thickens and no longer tastes like raw flour, about 5 minutes. Add the salt and Parmesan cheese. Taste and add a pinch or two more salt if desired.
  6. If serving with pasta, drain the pasta, then add the sauce. Add a splash or two of milk to loosen the sauce and come to just the right creamy consistency. Taste and a few more pinches of salt, if necessary. (The sauce is best freshly made, so we don’t recommend making it in advance). 

  • Category: Sauce
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: Cream Sauce, Garlic Cream Sauce

More great sauce recipes

Want more sauces? Here are some more recipes to try:

  • Marinara Sauce Full of tangy tomato flavor and takes just over 15 minutes to make: no chopping required!
  • Best Basil Pesto The best way to use up a boatload of fresh basil? Pesto, of course! Here’s our best basil pesto recipe, made the classic Italian way.
  • Best Vodka Sauce This vodka sauce recipe is Italian grandmother style, simmered to perfection with tomatoes, garlic, butter, and Parmesan cheese.
  • Vegan Alfredo Sauce Easy to make, starring nutrient-rich cauliflower and protein-packed cashews.
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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.

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